Creativity. It’s become a bit of a buzzword, but in this case, it’s all the buzz for good reason. A study by Forrester Consulting concluded that “companies that embrace creativity outperform peers and competitors on key business performance indicators, including revenue growth, market share, and talent acquisition.”

Creativity could actually be the key to the next level of your business’s success, and there’s a strong link between creativity and employee satisfaction. The same survey found that 69% of those creative firms were winners of “best place to work” awards, the kind of companies that employees enjoy working for and tend to stay at longer. More than just a pleasant diversion to increase employee satisfaction, creativity in the workplace is truly a business asset.

I see that creativity is important. Now what?

How do you shape your employee experience in a way that fosters creativity? Not just little glimmers of creativity in an otherwise rote and predictable work environment, but a company culture in which creativity truly flourishes?

Here are some ways to encourage creativity in your workplace:

Get colourful

Literally. Certain colours are known to promote creativity, so break up the office monotony with blues, greens, teals, oranges, and yellows. Do a little bit of research to see which colours are most conducive to creativity in your particular industry. One thing’s for sure: stark white isn’t doing anyone any creativity favours.

Introduce small changes

Ever notice how moving the furniture around in your living room can make everything feel new again? Doing the same in your office can spark creativity in your employees. By shifting what’s expected in our environments, we jolt our brains into looking at things with fresh eyes, and creative thinking often ensues.

Schedule unstructured time

Well, that sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? But stay with me. We have most of our creative ideas when we don’t feel pressured to do so. That’s why you often have brilliant thoughts in the shower or as you’re drifting off to sleep or while you’re taking a jog. By expecting employees to spend some portion of their workday in unstructured activity, you’re creating space for ideas to just “pop into their heads” as so often happens when we aren’t at work.

Have a “hackathon”

Computer programmers often attack challenging software development issues with intense work sessions called hackathons. Even if you’re not in software development, the method can be useful. Get your team together for a brainstorming/ problem solving/ solution-building session. Put aside all other projects, discuss every idea as a possibility, and see how much progress you can make in a single workday.

Have fun

Take your team to the museum, try an escape room together, or bring in a local chef for a cooking lesson and catered lunch. There are many ways to have fun with your team, and it does more than just keep people happy or reward them after a challenging project has been completed. Creating space for fun makes us more open to new ideas, and it’s good for team dynamics too, which brings us to our next point:

Foster team health

People who enjoy being around one another come up with creative ideas more easily, both individually and as a group. If your coworkers are rude, you’re going to be defensive and tense – not at all the state of mind for creativity. And bad relationships among coworkers virtually guarantee no one will be willing to share ideas. On the other hand, an environment characterized by encouragement and collaboration is far more likely to generate new ideas. Individuals will be more relaxed, which is good for creative thought, and team members can toss around ideas knowing their coworkers will consider and build on their thoughts rather than shooting them down.

Build a diverse team

Difference generates creativity. While it can be challenging to learn different communication preferences, working styles, and even cultural expectations on a diverse team, the challenge is well worth the reward. Aside from the individual personal gains of becoming a more open-minded person, team members will find that listening to others’ perspectives can actually make them more creative. As each team member brings his or her own problem-solving style to the table, more potential solutions are suggested and built upon than on a homogeneous team. The combination of ideas on diverse teams fosters a new level of creativity.

Setting the stage for great employee engagement

No software can automatically make your company a creative place, but there are ways to simplify your employee engagement so you can focus on fostering creativity. The right HR software can improve your recruiting process to help you build your dream team and develop their skills. An automated onboarding process can help ensure new hires have a positive experience before they even take a seat at their new desk. When you give employees the right tools, they have the freedom to be as creative as they want.

The creative vision

There are countless ways to create the kind of employee experience where creativity flourishes. Both the company and its employees win with the collaboration, satisfaction, and productivity that come from creative environments.